Writer's Life

Meredith Doench on writing and more

1. What has being an instructor taught you about writing?

I have learned through my teaching that there is so much I still need to learn about creative writing. One of the reasons I love creative writing is because there are countless ways to do it “right.” I am fascinated by the multitudes of ways to combine language and the different points of view my students bring to their writing. I work hard to create an environment in my classes where we all learn from one another. There is always room for improvement in my own writing. One of the best ways for me to grow as a writer is to engage in discussions about craft with other writers. I love to go to writing conferences and workshops for this very reason, and I always leave with a few new ideas of how to approach my own writing projects.

2. What’s the hardest part about writing for you and how do you push through it?

For me, the absolute hardest part of writing is finding time to write. Our lives are so very busy and noisy. We have so many demands for our time through work, family, friends, etc. I’m also not the most disciplined person in the world—given the opportunity, I will choose to binge watch Netflix or take my dog to the park instead of writing! It’s important for me to block out at least 2-3 days a week where I have a few hours of solid writing time. I’ve also found that there are too many distractions for me if I try to write at home. I work better if I go somewhere with the specific intention to write. I seek out coffee shops, libraries, pockets of silence at my workplace, etc. Another key element that helps me make time to write is a hard deadline. Sometimes I need that additional pressure of a commitment in order to get my work completed.

3. If you could only give your fiction students one piece of advice, what would it be?

Consider revision a gift rather than a chore. I know this is sometimes hard to do because it feels like a lot of work. Here’s the thing: writing IS a lot of work! Nathaniel Hawthorne says “easy reading is damn hard writing,” and I couldn’t agree more. Revision may feel like a chore, but it is essential. I’ve learned that if I walk away from something I’ve written and give it a week or two before going back, I’m able to find areas in the writing that need more work and clarification. The process of revision has grown on me, and I don’t think I could survive as a writer without it!

Meredith Doench teaches writing at UD. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in literary journals such as Hayden’s Ferry Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Lumina, and Gertrude. She served as a fiction editor at Camera Obscura: Journal of Literature and Photography and her first crime thriller, Crossed, was published by Bold Strokes Books in August 2015.  Her second, Forsaken Trust comes out this week.

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